Sensory play and brain Development
Toddlers absolutely delight in exploring their world through their senses. Sensory play – play that stimulates any of a child’s senses – builds cognitive skills and influences how your child learns about their world.
In essence, sensory play includes play that engages any of your child’s senses. This includes touch, smell, sight, sound and taste. But it also covers movement, balance, and spatial awareness. When a child is born, their senses aren’t fully developed. They only mature over time as babies, toddlers, and preschoolers explore the sensory world around them. Each new experience they have with a different sense builds nerve connections that grow the architecture of their brain.
So many of the best activities for toddlers are as simple as letting them experience what adults do every day. Fantastic Fun and Learning details an easy but profound activity: Go for a walk and listen to nature. Allow your toddler in on the peaceful fun by predicting what sounds they will hear on the back of a paper plate—and every time they hear one of their predictions, they get to fold that portion over. Will they hear everything they thought they would? Did they hear something that surprised them? A great activity for exercise, guesswork and practicing those listening skills.
So, what is sensory play?
Sensory play includes any activity that stimulates your young child’s senses: touch, smell, taste, movement, balance, sight and hearing.
Sensory activities facilitate exploration and naturally encourage children to use scientific processes while they play, create, investigate and explore. The sensory activities allow children to refine their thresholds for different sensory information helping their brain to create stronger connections to process and respond to sensory information.
What are the benefits of sensory play?
Sensory play offers a whole host of benefits, including:
- It supports language development, cognitive growth, motor skills, problem solving skills, and social interaction
- It helps the development of memory function
- It can help calm children when they are anxious, stressed, or frustrated
- It allows children to develop an understanding of sensory attributes, such as hot, cold, wet, dry, etc
- It supports emotional development.